COVID-19 Information & Updates

This page will be continually updated with the latest info on SKS' response and policies related to COVID-19. All info will be emailed to students, parents, and community members, but should you miss anything it can be found here. 

Given the uncertain trajectory of the virus and our desire to support public health efforts to contain its spread, the School has decided to transition the academic program to remote learning for the remainder of the school year.


We aspire to provide very clear information to our families each week.Families should expect communication from the School via email at 3:00 PM Eastern Standard Time every Tuesday and Friday for the duration of this outbreak. Our goal is to stay two-weeks ahead of the situation, meaning that any substantive changes to our plan will be communicated to our families with at least two-weeks notice. This may not always be possible, but two-weeks is our goal.

SKS' Main points of Contact for COVID-19 Related Info:

Gonzalo Garcia-Pedroso '95

[email protected]

Phillip Darrin

[email protected]


Latest communication from SKS

Tuesday, 4/7/20

Sid Stockdale, my SKS roommate and current trustee, sent me this video about the “Stockdale Paradox” - how to survive difficult times. The Stockdale Paradox captures the way that his father, Admiral James B. Stockdale (for whom our rink is named, with wife Sybil), survived eight years in a North Vietnamese prison camp by balancing realism with optimism, starting with where you are to get to where you want to be, one day at a time. I encourage you to watch this five minute video with your sons.

If you have questions about the mechanics of distance learning please contact Mr. Porter ([email protected]) or view this video clip - SKS Distance Learning Check-in with Mr. Garcia. If you have questions or concerns about the program - academic, chapel, community life, movement - please contact Mr. Darrin ([email protected]).

A number of parents have asked about remaining unused funds held in their student services accounts to cover incidentals like bookstore purchases, laundry, and Perch (evening snack) services. Normally, any remaining balances at the end of a school year are refunded to seniors, post graduates, and non-returning students with all other student balances credited toward the next year. Our current plan is to reconcile all student service accounts together with the room and board reconciliation anticipated in late May, with credits and refunds issued as appropriate at that time. Under the circumstances, if you need your student service account funds reconciled earlier than this, please contact our Business Office at [email protected].

We have received several inquiries about when families might be able to come to campus to pick up their son’s belongings. Currently, we are under complete lockdown, and until the time when this is lifted only essential non-residents are allowed on campus. At the point when the lockdown is lifted we will determine the best way to allow families to come to pack and pick up belongings and/or how to pack and ship belongings. As with so many other issues today, we cannot yet put this onto a calendar or announce the exact procedure we will follow but we will inform you all as soon as we can.

As you have probably learned, hockey coach Ryan Ward is leaving to pursue an opportunity in the USHL. We congratulate Ryan on this next move up the hockey coaching ladder and wish him nothing but the best. We are aggressively searching for his replacement and I feel confident that we will find the right person to lead not only his hockey team but also be a contributor to the rest of campus life.

We continue to host parent conference calls every two weeks. If you’d like to join we will use the same format as last time with you all having the ability to send in questions ahead of time to Phil Darrin ([email protected]) or texting them during the call. Thursday 4.9.20 at 5:30pm (Eastern). Please join vie RingCentral Meetings:

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://meetings.ringcentral.com/j/1485021696

Or iPhone one-tap :

US: +1(773)2319226,,1485021696# (US North)
+1(469)4450100,,1485021696# (US South)
+1(470)8692200,,1485021696# (US East)
+1(623)4049000,,1485021696# (US West)
+1(720)9027700,,1485021696# (US Central)

Or Telephone:

Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1(773)2319226 (US North)
+1(469)4450100 (US South)
+1(470)8692200 (US East)
+1(623)4049000 (US West)
+1(720)9027700 (US Central)

Meeting ID: 148 502 1696

 

Thank you to our Parents Advisory Group for their work in outreach and fielding questions. Please continue to use them as a resource if you have questions, along with any administrator, faculty or staff member.

Christine Pina (Parent of Arthur Smith, 4th Form boarding), [email protected]

Mike Pointer (Parent of Matthew Pointer, 5th Form boarding), [email protected]

Kim Holczinger (Parent of Noah Holczinger, 5th Form day student), [email protected]

Jennifer Dorsey (Parent of Casey Dorsey, 6th form boarding), [email protected]

 

Stay Well!

Lawrence Smith

Lawrence A. Smith '73
Head of School

Past Communications

Good afternoon. We are excited to move past the preparation period and actually dig in to distance learning. The faculty are primed and ready to go and we hope that you and your sons are as well.

A quick video on how teachers will record effort grades/comments can be seen HERE.

Another quick video on digital citizenship as it pertains to the South Kent Distance Learning Program can be found HERE.

Empowering and Protecting Your Family. This video by Dr. David Price, though long, has plain, simple and strong advice on how to keep your family safe from COVID-19. Dr. Price is an ICU intensivist in NYC who spends all his time now treating C-19 patients.

The piece below is from Thursday’s Washington Post and explains how the admission office of the largest and most influential university system in the country is reacting to the coronavirus. It is difficult to see how a college or university cannot move in the direction; it is done for the benefit of all high school students. Lynn Worthington and Walter Moore will keep Fifth and Sixth Form parents informed as the landscape of college admissions unfolds.

University of California Suspends Admission Testing Requirements Because of Coronavirus Pandemic

We have scheduled another parent call for this coming Thursday evening at 5:30, with specific call-in information coming soon. It will follow the same format as the one we hosted last week. At that time (or before) please let us know how the remote schooling works for your son and for your family, as well as whatever questions you might have.

Please keep the following suggested guidelines in mind as online classes start next week.

  • Encourage simplicity of life by encouraging your son to stake out and consistently use an appropriate and dedicated study space, one that is free of distractions.
  • Encourage self-reliance by enabling your son to take ownership of his learning by making responsible decisions and asking for help when he needs it.

  • Practice directness of purpose by having your son establish a regular routine and structure, including a regular bedtime and wake-up time each day
, Monday through Friday. When he is “at school,” he is at school, and when he isn’t, he isn’t.
  • Try to respect the times that your son needs to do his work and give him the privacy to do so without isolating him.
  • Help your son maintain social contact with his schoolmates through shared virtual lunches, roommate check-ins, advisor chats and other times not designated for a school commitment.
  • Insist that your son is physically active, whether in the program coordinated by Mr. Owen Finberg or other SKS team activities, or on his own. 
If done together, this could be a great family activity.
  • Monitor your son’s stress level, and seek help with us or at home should this become needed. 


 

Stay Well!

Lawrence Smith

Lawrence A. Smith '73
Head of School


Thank you to our Parents Advisory Group for their ongoing work and support. Please contact any one of them if you have questions or suggestions:

Christine Pina (Parent of Arthur Smith, 4th Form boarding), [email protected] 

Mike Pointer (Parent of Matthew Pointer, 5th Form boarding), [email protected]

Kim Holczinger (Parent of Noah Holczinger, 5th Form day student), [email protected] 

Jennifer Dorsey (Parent of Casey Dorsey, 6th form boarding), [email protected]

The faculty are “practicing what we preach” as they are dedicating this week to final preparations for our distance learning program. Who would have thought in January that this would become the new “normal.” They are embracing these changes, in many cases after decades of mastering classroom teaching, and applying this mastery in a new venue. Their positive attitude, collaboration (from afar!) and creativity is not surprising in the least; they are an exceptional team.

We shared our SKS Online Athletics & Physical Education Program with the boys Sunday. They have been invited to join the Google Classroom via email, Sunday and again last night, and should sign up immediately. We are providing content and videos for boys of all abilities. There are three different activities each day ranging from hiking, mobility, sports specific skill work, strength and yoga. We would ask each boy to try and complete one each day, hopefully high performance athletes do all three. We will also ask boys (and their families where appropriate) to engage with the community in some challenges, some have already taken the first #sksonlineathletics #pushupchallenge by doing as many as they can in a minute and sharing them on social media.

We strongly suggest that domestic students contact the USPS and have their mail forwarded home. This will help reduce the mail traffic here and for seniors it will get college acceptance material into their hands.

Some of our international scholars have been able to return home, and we now have 18 boys remaining on campus. We have received many inquiries about how to support them and hope that at the very least your sons will stay in regular contact.

A special thank you to Father Klots for jumping into the distance learning pool so quickly and so fearlessly in delivering chapel services. While Father has not been in the forefront of technology use in the past he has set the bar high for the rest of us whose work is yet to be public. Thank you, Father Klots.

We are excited to announce our new partnership with the Northwestern Connecticut Youth Hockey Icehawks. This partnership helps South Kent Selects Academy keep playing at the most competitive level of AAA hockey in the United States. Read the full press release on our website here.

Thank you to our Parents Advisory Group for their ongoing work and support. Please contact any one of them if you have questions or suggestions:

Christine Pina (Parent of Arthur Smith, 4th Form boarding), [email protected] 

Mike Pointer (Parent of Matthew Pointer, 5th Form boarding), [email protected]

Kim Holczinger (Parent of Noah Holczinger, 5th Form day student), [email protected] 

Jennifer Dorsey (Parent of Casey Dorsey, 6th form boarding), [email protected] 

Stay well!

Lawrence Smith
Lawrence A. Smith '73
Head of School

Thank you to all who joined the call last night; while we couldn’t hear your voices we certainly felt your support. We look forward to similar calls in the future, scheduled as regularly as it seems appropriate to host them. You can watch the conference call HERE or just listen to it HERE.  

A few strongly suggested guidelines about your son’s schooling before we start on the 6th:

Practice directness of purpose by having your son establish a regular routine and structure, including a regular bedtime and wake-up time each day
, Monday through Friday. When he is “at school,” he is at school, and when he isn’t, he isn’t.  

Encourage simplicity of life by encouraging your son to stake out and consistently use an appropriate and dedicated study space, one that is free of distractions.

Try to respect the times that your son needs to do his work and give him the privacy to do so without isolating him.

Encourage self-reliance by enabling your son to take ownership of his learning by making responsible decisions and asking for help when he needs it.


Help your son maintain social contact with his schoolmates through shared virtual lunches, roommate check-ins, advisor chats and other times not designated for a school commitment. 

Insist that your son is physically active, whether in the program coordinated by Mr. Owen Finberg or other SKS team activities, or on his own. 
If done together, this could be a great family activity.  

Monitor your son’s stress level, and seek help with us or at home should this become needed. 
 

COVID-19 FAQ

Please send us your thoughts on how to share the energy and excitement that your sons experience even though we are not together. We all need to experience and practice joy, and celebrate the vitality of adolescent growth.

Lawrence Smith

Lawrence A. Smith '73
Head of School

Good afternoon from the Hillside - I hope this note finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause worldwide anxiety, we are doing everything possible to determine the best path for us to take. Our top priority remains, as it always has and always will, the safety, health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. We continue to deliberate the best options for our school community about how to proceed in the coming weeks and months. Please know we appreciate your confidence in SKS as well as your patience and flexibility as we try to navigate uncharted and stormy waters. 

Spring break has been extended until April 6, at which time we will begin on-line classes. Chief Academic Officer Phil Darrin will be in touch next week with details about how this will work. We will provide distance learning opportunities not only for our academic classes, but also for chapel, community life and athletics. 

Campus is closed to everyone except employee residents, the 23 boys who did not go home, some essential staff such as Facilities and IT personnel, and an occasional outside contractor. Everyone else is working remotely. When we do come across colleagues on campus we maintain a strict 10’ social distance. We will continue to operate this way as long as it is necessary to maintain the health of the community.

This link is a thorough COVID-19 data aggregator that we have found and is used by many schools and companies around the world to help guide decisions. This site is best viewed on a laptop using Google Chrome. (You may need to click the “English” button near the upper left of the opening page.) 
 
We have established a Parent Advisory Group to help guide us in our decision making. Thank you to these four parents for volunteering. 
Please contact them if you have issues or concerns from a parent’s perspective:
Christine Pina - Arthur Smith, 4th Form boarding, [email protected]
Mike Pointer - Matthew Pointer, 5th Form boarding, [email protected]
Kim Holczinger - Noah Holczinger, 5th Form day student, [email protected]
Jennifer Dorsey - Casey Dorsey, 6th form boarding, [email protected]
 
Gonzo Garcia-Pedroso remains the point person for all questions and concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and the School’s handling of these issues. [email protected].

Stay well!

Lawrence A. Smith
Phil Darrin
Gonzo Garcia

Dear South Kent Families,

We hope this update finds you well.  Last night a local restaurant reached out to campus because they had purchased corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day. Due to local regulations, the restaurants are all closing and this restaurant owner did not want to let good food go to waste.  He donated fifteen pounds of beautiful corned beef to the School.  Erin go bragh! Now we just need haggis and maybe some bangers and mash to go along with it (that is a joke, please do not send haggis!).

South Kent School continues to monitor updates from various government offices and agencies, as well as the National Association of Independent Schools and the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools. Our aim is to make the best decision for all constituents with regard to the upcoming spring term. Other important factors informing our decision making include the directives being put in place by government agencies, such as limiting the number of people in a gathering and the closing of facilities. Consistent with our earlier messages, return from spring break is extended at least two weeks with online classes beginning April 6, 2020.  

We are thankful for your feedback since our last communication. It was great to hear students offer their personal snacks that they left behind for the boys here on campus to enjoy. Kind gestures like these are what will make thriving through a pandemic possible. Please keep the lines of communication open. Share with us your concerns about School and some of the interesting stories in your local area. 

Since our last communication we have done the following, the School:

  • closed the campus to all non-residents, including visitors to any faculty or staff residing on campus. 
  • directed all employees who are able to work from home.  
  • established a Parent Support Council to help collect and disseminate information.
  • added a FAQ page to our Website. (Can be found lower on this page)

  
The academic office is busy researching the best, easy-to-use, and most reliable online delivery option for classes. We will provide clear instructions about the online option very soon.

As we previously stated, our goal is to stay two-weeks ahead of the situation, meaning that any substantive changes to our plan will be communicated to our families with at least two-weeks notice.

Gonzo Garcia-Pedroso remains the point person for all questions and concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and the School’s handling of these issues.  [email protected].

Stay well!

Lawrence A. Smith
Phil Darrin
Gonzo Garcia

Dear South Kent Families,

We wanted to share a brief update in regards to Campus access and corresponding visitation.

At this time the campus is CLOSED for at least the next two weeks, (through March 29) by which time we will have appropriate and necessary procedures in place to protect all members of the community.

  1. The campus is closed to all visitors including visitors to on-campus housing.
  2. All non-essential School related travel is suspended.

Thank you for your patience and support. We are doing our best to respond to this crisis appropriately and with your boy’s safety at the heart of all that we do, while also providing an excellent academic experience. 

As always, please reach out to the School if you have any questions or concerns. Gonzalo Garcia-Pedroso ([email protected]) will serve as point person for the School. Please direct questions and concerns to him. We welcome your feedback as we seek the best plan forward for South Kent School and its families.

Sincerely,

Lawrence Smith
Head of School

Dear South Kent Families,

We hope you have enjoyed having your boys home for these past few days. Campus is quiet, though the 23 students who remain here are keeping us busy. Last Saturday we took the group for dinner at a local restaurant and then to Rich Farm for ice cream. The boys were patiently waiting in line when the shop owner approached the faculty chaperones. Upon learning that our boys had to forgo their spring break plans and remain on campus due to the COVID-19 situation, the owner invited the boys to come as often as they like and he gave the boys a 25% discount for subsequent visits.

I share the story above because we need to hear good stories when we are overwhelmed by news of a pandemic.

The situation with COVID-19 is evolving rapidly. Our Health Crisis Team, made up of administrators, trustees, and trained health professionals, is meeting on a regular basis.  We are working with local, state, and federal officials to get as much of a handle on this situation as possible. In addition, I am in constant communication with the heads of local, independent schools. Since we last communicated, the World Health Organization has declared a pandemic and President Trump has declared a national state of emergency and enacted policies to help contain the spread of the Novel Coronavirus. The CDC has declared COVID-19 a pandemic and the world is now at a level 3 travel advisory. Collegiate and professional sports have suspended their seasons, and USA hockey has canceled the national tournament. All of these actions inform our decision making.

Like most academic institutions, we are considering the following options:

  1. A delayed return from spring break with online offerings beginning April 6; or 
  2. No return for the spring with online offerings beginning April 6.

We are waiting to determine the availability of tests for COVID-19 which we understand to be limited. We would like to know more about treatment protocols. We would like more emergency medical supplies to be available to our health staff as many items are currently on backorder. We would like to know how long the virus survives on surfaces and how communicable the virus would be in a close community like South Kent. Each day we learn more. 

We aspire to provide very clear information to our families each week. Families should expect communication from the School via email at 3:00 PM Eastern Standard Time every Tuesday and Friday for the duration of this outbreak. The School has added a FAQ page to our Website. Our goal is to stay two-weeks ahead of the situation, meaning that any substantive changes to our plan will be communicated to our families with at least two-weeks notice. This may not always be possible, but two-weeks is our goal.

Online schooling through South Kent would most likely utilize applications already available to your boys in the Google Suite. Teachers already use Google Classroom to post information and assignments for their classes. Our students should be very familiar with the processes. We believe that an application called Google Meet would help us communicate with our students in real-time and that the learning curve for using the application is fairly small. We will explore this and other resources and provide detailed information about online learning to our families soon. In addition, teaching online will require a change in our schedule that we will be working on over the course of the next few days. 

We need to know how viable online would be for our families. We assume that our families have ample internet access, computers, and space for our boys to learn at home. PLEASE contact Phil Darrin ([email protected]) right away if our assumptions are incorrect so that we can game plan solutions for every student.

Thank you for your patience and support. We are doing our best to respond to this crisis appropriately and with your boy’s safety at the heart of all that we do, while also providing an excellent academic experience. 

As always, please reach out to the School if you have any questions or concerns. Gonzalo Garcia-Pedroso ([email protected]) will serve as point person for the School. Please direct questions and concerns to him. We welcome your feedback as we seek the best plan forward for South Kent School and its families.

Sincerely,

Lawrence Smith
Head of School


FAQ 

South Kent School is evaluating the variable portions of its comprehensive fee related to students not being on campus.  Our comprehensive fee is composed of three primary components: tuition (faculty compensation and overhead, our education), room ( a fee attributed to the investment of the school in our classrooms, dorms, athletic and overall physical plant, plus service thereof) and board ( generally the food and other variable consumption costs).  Regarding tuition, we will continue to deliver a vibrant extraordinary education from our faculty, though now delivered on-line.  Regarding room, in response to the Governor of CT, we are not allowed the physical option of rooming our boys except in extraordinary cases, but our investment and expenses in our physical plant remain.

We are evaluating both the savings we may recognize as a result of students not returning to campus for the seven weeks remaining in the school year and the costs we will incur for delivering our educational program online. Once the financial impacts are known, any resulting credit will be proportional to the student’s financial aid and in consideration of past due balances. We hope to be able to communicate the specifics in late May, and in the meantime appreciate your patience as we work through all of these issues.

Our online offerings will count towards the required academic credit
We don’t know when yet, but we will have Prize Day for the Class of 2020.
No, South Kent School has made the decision not to conduct the spring term using distance learning and will begin with online offerings on April 6.

Please hold off on making any plans to return to campus UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
At this time the campus is CLOSED until further notice.
Because campus is closed to all but essential staff (see list above) students other than the 23 here are not able to get into dorms right now. If there is something essential a student needs from their room, they should contact Director of Residential Life, Mr. Jesse Brennan ([email protected]).
Contact Phil Darrin ([email protected]) and the School will ship your device to you as long as the option to ship remains open locally.  Students will need to arrange for payment to ship the devices home to include insurance and packing materials.
Students who do not have reliable internet access should reach out to Phil Darrin ([email protected]) as soon as possible; the School is committed to helping such students access remote learning.
Please reach out to the health center to make a plan. Depending on the medication, it can be shipped to you or a new prescription can be called into a pharmacy which is local to you.